Residents at 29 nursing homes, state prison inmates infected with COVID-19

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Residents at 29 Indiana nursing homes have been diagnosed with COVID-19, along with inmates an unspecified number of correctional facilities, state officials said Thursday.

Both types of locations are considered serious in a pandemic, because the virus can spread quickly in confined spaces. In addition, elderly people in nursing homes or prisons with underlying medical conditions are considered especially vulnerable if they are infected.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said 76 people have tested positive in those nursing homes in recent days. The number included both residents and workers, she said. She did not identify the nursing homes.

On Wednesday, a Franklin retirement community, Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife, announced that an 87-year-old resident died of COVID-19 after being taken to the hospital last week. The deceased was only identified as a women who had lived at Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife Community who was taken to the hospital last week with issues from a pre-existing condition.

The senior community initially was hit with an outbreak of COVID-19 on Thursday, when eight residents tested positive, along with a nurse and therapist. On Sunday, the community said seven more residents tested positive, bringing the total to 15 in less than a week.

The Indiana State Department of Health has created regional strike teams that travel to nursing homes to help with COVID-19 responses.

Box did not offer details on what the health department strike teams have been doing. But she said they had also visited state prisons to care for “infected individuals.” She did not say how many prisoners or corrections workers have been diagnosed.

“We’re working closely also with our long-term care partners with the Department of Corrections to take appropriate steps to care for infected individuals and limit the spread of COVID-19 within those institutions,” she said. “They include cohorting positive individuals in one location or making alternative housing arrangements when necessary.”

She did not say which prisons had been infected, or how many inmates or corrections workers had tested positive.

Just last Friday, Rob Carter, superintendent of the Indiana Department of Corrections said no prisoners had tested positive, but he did not say how many prisoners, if any, had been tested. Box said Thursday that health department workers were busy trying to manage the situation.

“Our strike teams continue to visit long-term care facilities and correctional facilities across the state,” she said.

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